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Fish Consumption Advisory

Fishing Regulations Rhode Island Freshwater Fishing

The FDA has issued warnings about mercury levels in swordfish since 1986. Problems with mercury in freshwater fish are similar. The Rhode Island Department of Health wants all anglers to be familiar with the following information.

Fish is Good – Mercury is Bad

Mercury can exist in many forms; powders or liquids. It can enter ponds, lakes, and rivers through pollution and get into the fish that live there. Mercury is commonly found at elevated levels in freshwater fish and in a few types of saltwater fish. The RI Department of Health advises pregnant women to avoid eating freshwater fish caught in Rhode Island waters (except stocked trout). Mercury can cross the placenta and impair the neurological development of human fetuses. Mercury exposure can affect how a baby learns, moves and behaves. High levels of mercury in the body can cause harm to an adult’s kidneys and brain.

Advice for those who fish:

Check the stocking list on Designated Trout Waters. Choose stocked trout to eat. Vary where you fish, and the types of fish that you eat. Eat smaller fish (in accordance with RIDEM size limits). Avoid fish with the most mercury: bass, pike, and pickerel. Limit black crappie and eel from all ponds to one meal per month. Do not fish in private ponds without permission. Do not eat fish from private ponds, with no public access and those that are not stocked by the state. Trout from private vendors stocked into private ponds may be eaten.

With the exception of trout; do not eat any fish from:

Yawgoog Pond, Windcheck Pond, Meadowbrook Pond, Quidnick Reservoir, and the lower Woonasquatucket River.

Limit fish, except for stocked trout, from:

Tucker and Watchaug Ponds to one meal per month. Preliminary data from a Pan Fish Study completed in 1998 indicates relatively high levels of mercury in fish from Barber Pond, Bowdish Reservoir, J. L. Curran Reservoir, Echo Lake, and Indian Lake.

Preliminary assessments of fish from:

Mashapaug Pond indicate high levels of several contaminants, warranting further study. For the Woonasquatucket River, Mashapaug Pond and other urban rivers and ponds, fishing can still be enjoyed by those who catch and release.

For more information on mercury in fish:

Visit or call the Health Hotline at 1-800-942-7434.